While working on her doctorate, Dr. Gilda Barabino wanted a career that allowed her to use her education and knowledge to help people, but didn’t want to go the clinical medicine route. Instead she earned her PhD in chemical engineering from Rice University.
While at Rice she started applying fluid mechanical principles to the flow of blood in the body as a way of combining chemical engineering and medical applications. For her dissertation she selected to study sickle-cell disease – a group of genetically passed blood disorders that result in an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein hemoglobin in red blood cells. In her research she is interested in discovering ways to block the adhesions that occur between red blood cells and the cells lining the vessel walls for people affected by the disease.
In 2013 she was appointed the Berg Professor and Dean of the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York where she holds positions in the departments of biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, and the Sophie Davis School of Medicine. As the head of the Barabino Laboratory on Vascular and Orthopedic Tissue Engineering Research at CCNY she leads a team of students and researchers that primarily focus on cellular and tissue responses to fluid mechanical forces. The work concentrates on the characterization and quantification of mechanical and biochemical cues that influence tissue growth and disease progression. The primary focus of this work is on sickle cell disease and cartilage tissue engineering – which uses multiple disciplines in biomedical engineering in hopes of being able to create replacement cartilage to replace damaged tissues.
Barabino is also a staunch advocate for diversity in scientific fields stating, “The best science is conducted when we have the most inclusive group of people involved. You can’t possibly have the best minds at the able if you exclude a certain group.” As part of her drive to make science more inclusive she served as the inaugural Vice Provost for Academic Diversity while teaching at Georgia Tech and is the founder and executive director of the National Institute for Faculty Equity.
Written by Angela Goad